The Washington Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion earlier this month concerning a challenge to the termination of a membership in a private social club. The membership termination came as the result of a dispute over whether or not a member could bring an eleven-foot wide trailer onto the property. The width of the trailer allegedly ran afoul of the club’s bylaws. Finding no significant procedural irregularities, the appellate court upheld the club’s membership termination.
A concurrence to the court’s opinion noted that a slightly different standard would have been applied if this had been a case involving the restrictive covenants of a community association. In that situation, the court would have interpreted those covenants "in such a way that protects the homeowners' collective interests and gives effect to the purposes intended by the drafters of those covenants to further the creation and maintenance of the planned community." In other words, the interests of the community as a whole are entitled to great weight when there is a dispute about what the covenants governing Washington condominium and homeowners associations mean.
At their best, community associations promote high property values and a pleasant living environment. They make owners’ lives better by pursuing the common good. On this Thanksgiving, owners should remember to be thankful for the benefits that they enjoy due to their membership in a community association.